The Wisconsin Spring Revisited

The Wisconsin Spring Revisited

James Jorstad (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA) and Cecilia G. Manrique (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, La Crosse, WI, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 5
DOI: 10.4018/IJCESC.2015070104
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Five years have passed since the origins of the Arab Spring in Tunisia took place. It has been almost three years since the impact of the Wisconsin Spring on Scott Walker's attempts at policy changes in the state occurred. At that time the effect of social media on public awareness and public participation in political events was considered new and innovative. Since then Walker had been through a recall election and won. He has been through a re-election and also won. In addition, Walker attempted a presidential run in the Republican primary. This article is an update on what has transpired since then and the impact of social media on the events that have taken place in Wisconsin determining whether social media has had an impact on political participation in the state.
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The Wisconsin Spring Revisited

A previous chapter by the two authors discussed the impact of social media in Wisconsin when Governor Scott Walker introduced policies removing most of the collective bargaining rights of public workers and the reduction of transparency in state government. His policies regarding unions brought hundreds of thousands of protestors to the state Capitol, many emboldened and inspired particularly through social media and mainstream news outlets. Wisconsin had become politically charged and dramatically divided. Social media was largely responsible for increased public awareness and citizen political participation throughout the state. With the elimination of collective bargaining and unions, Governor Walker and the state GOP majority solidified its power and control of the state’s Assembly and Senate. While social media was actively used by both state political parties, Democratic and Independent leaning Wisconsinites together mobilized the citizenry and extended its base and platform onto the national political scene through social media tools.

The Democratic base in Wisconsin was hopeful this citizen participation could be sustained to prevent Walker’s re-election bid. But this attempt was minimized and likely overshadowed in large part due to the tidal wave of money flowing into political advertising from outside of Wisconsin. This phenomenon can be attributed to the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court decision. (“Citizens United,” 2010). As the Walker administration pushed for the elimination of tenure in higher education, the promotion of right to work, and a “pro-business” mantra, it appeared the Democratic voice could not effectively utilize social media effectively enough to change the priorities and legislation of the Wisconsin GOP.

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